Sunday, February 28, 2010

0 Recipe #78: Pomegranate Muffins

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This recipe is a variation on the The "Delicious, Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink" Oatmeal, Nut, & Fruit Muffins/Bread recipe I posted a while back. It contains no flour, sugar, or butter, & still tastes delicious. You don't even need to add salt, because the recipe calls for baking soda, which provides enough sodium/salty flavor. :)

The secret to moist, naturally sweet tasting muffins is the addition of juice & bananas. :) This is a trick I learned from my paternal grandmother. (She usually chose OJ for hers.) And boy, could she bake!

Pomegranate Muffins

1 banana, mashed
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 large egg
1-2 Tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime or lemon juice
1 c. pomegranate juice
1 Tbsp fresh orange (or lemon) zest
3 c. oats, ground into oat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tsp. ground ginger, or to taste
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp clove
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 c. pecans &/or walnuts
1 c. fresh pomegranate seeds (roughly about 1-2 pomegranates)
extra virgin coconut oil, for coating the pan

Directions: Prepare pomegranate: Score the fresh pomegranates & submerge them, one at a time, in a large bowl of water. Break open pomegranate underwater to free the seeds.  The seed sacs (also called arils) will sink to the bottom of the bowl & the membrane will float to the top. Sieve & put the seeds in a separate bowl. Reserve 1 cup pomegranate seeds & set aside. (Refrigerate or freeze remaining seeds for future use in another recipe.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium-sized bowl, mash together banana & baking soda with a fork & set aside. In an electric mixer, mix together remaining wet ingredients (egg, lime or lemon juice, pomegranate juice, & zest) on a high speed until ingredients are well combined; mixture should be fluffy & frothy. Then, turn down mixer to medium speed, add in mashed banana mixture & whisk together until just combined. Don't overmix batter or dough will become gluey, making a dense, hard bread. (There should still be banana lumps in the mixture; be careful not to purée bananas or bread will not become as light & fluffy as it should during the baking process.) Turn off mixer & set aside.

Next, sift together all remaining dry ingredients (oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, clove, & allspice), minus the nuts & pomegranate seeds, into a separate, large bowl. This is a very important step. Do NOT skip it; it will help to further aerate the ingredients. Transfer wet ingredients from mixing bowl to this bowl & gently fold the wet ingredients into the dry (i.e., this is called the muffin method) until just combined. Bubbles should start to appear in the mixture, which is an indication that the baking soda & baking powder are reacting with the wet ingredients. Fold in nuts & pomegranate seeds, & mix only until the fruit & nuts have been evenly distributed, which should only take a few seconds. Do not over-mix the batter or the softer fruits (i.e., the pomegranate seeds) are likely to burst; this recipe tastes better when the arils of the pomegranate are consumed whole.  Immediately pour the batter into a 12-cup muffin tray that's been coated with coconut oil, & bake for 23-25 minutes, or until top turns golden brown. Test with a fork for doneness; if fork pulls out easily without any batter on it, then it's ready. Let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from pan. Serve, preferably warm, & enjoy!

Chef's Notes: Depending on the thickness & height of your muffin mixture, & also your elevation level, the muffins may take more or less time to bake. To be on the safe side, continually check the oven while the mixture is baking to ensure your muffins don't burn. Test occasionally with a toothpick or fork to see if it's ready; if the utensil comes out clean, i.e., without any ingredients stuck to it, you know it's probably ready. You can also cut into it with a knife to check its progress.

Make sure to remove the muffins from the muffin pan soon after cooking, so they don't stick to pan. (Believe me, I've made this mistake before; you don't want to have to employ a large catapult to heave out the ingredients, or be scraping out the pan until next Tuesday.)

When I make this recipe in large amounts, I usually bake it in a sheet cake pan, cut it up into bars, & just leave it in the fridge (in a plastic/Ziploc bag or in a bowl covered with plastic wrap or foil) to nibble on whenever breakfast or snack time rolls around. Breakfast-bar-sized portions are about 4 oz., while snack-sized portions are about 2 oz.

Let me know how your version of this recipe turns out! Would love to hear what other ingredients you've tried using for muffins or banana bread type recipes.  I look forward to hearing your comments & suggestions! Thanks & Bon Appétit!


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